What Is My Dog Allergic To?
How can you tell if your dog has allergies? There are five known types of allergies in dogs, each having both common and unique symptoms. As in humans, the symptoms of dog allergies can range from mild to extreme, depending on the allergen involved.
Determining your dog’s allergy may be difficult, however, it is important to detect as soon as possible to ensure the health and happiness of your dog. Once the allergen is detected, it can be as easy to resolve as simply removing it from your dog’s day to day activities or diet. To determine the cause of your dog’s allergen, it is important to first distinguish your dog’s symptoms.
1. Skin Allergies in Dogs
Dog skin allergies are the least common allergy found in dogs. Irritation and symptoms can occur immediately or within 24-48 hours of contact.
This is the least common of all allergies in dogs. Dog skin allergies are when a dog develops sensitivity or irritations caused by objects that his skin comes in contact with.
In many cases, a dog’s skin allergy arises suddenly and the symptoms are noticeable within 24-48 hours of contact. Sometimes it is easy to determine what is causing a reaction on your dog’s skin.
For example, if you recently purchased a new dog bed and he begins itching the same week, it may be a simple removal of his bed to prevent a reaction.
However, some irritants are developed in common materials that your dog had no previous reaction to. Dog skin allergies are as rare as 1 in a million but are still important to detect and treat immediately.
Causes of Skin Allergies
There are a few different causes of contact allergies. Some irritants may include:
- Types of bedding such as rubber or wool.
- Certain types of metal in a dog leash or collar, like chrome and nickel.
- Different types of shampoos or lotions used.
- Chemicals like fragrances or fabric deodorant.
skin allergies symptoms
The most common side effects of dog skin allergies are skin irritations such as redness, sores, bumps in the skin and commonly affect areas that are sparsely haired and directly exposed to the irritant.
Areas commonly affected include near the lips, muzzle or abdomen, and back of the paws. Dogs will scratch in this area and it may cause hair loss and become red and inflamed.
A dog skin allergy is the easiest allergy to cure as it involves localization of a skin’s reaction to the allergen. Dogs with contact allergies should be restricted from areas treated with bleach or floor cleaning products, carpet detergents or hard wood floor waxes.
2. Flea Allergies
What is a Flea Allergy?
Flea allergies are very common in dogs. A dog with a flea allergy will always be allergic and the severity usually worsens as your dog ages. The most effective way to ensure relief for your dog is to eliminate fleas from your environment.
The main side effect of a flea allergy is severe itching. Other side effects include excessive licking, redness, and swelling.
The allergy can be as minor as constant scratching or as severe as biting or chewing on the skin. Excessive biting or scratching can cause hair loss and sores on the skin called hot spots. The sores, or hot spots, can become infected with bacteria and can potentially cause extreme illness.
Flea Allergies and Your Dog
Although it’s not suspected, the dog itself causes more damage than the actual fleas. The irritation is caused not by the actual bite of a flea, but by the saliva entered into the dog’s skin.
The bite from a single flea will have minimal effect on your dog, but dogs with a flea allergy will experience immediate itching, redness, and swelling. This reaction can be compared to a human’s reaction to a mosquito bite.
Fleas have a life span of 6-12 months. The problem can last year round in warm, humid climates or in flea infested indoor environments. In areas with cold winters, the flea allergy will be dormant. Normally, a flea allergy is most common during the warm months.
Most dogs with flea allergies actually have very few fleas, but because they are so itchy they groom excessively, eliminating any evidence of fleas. This can make it difficult to detect them.
How to Spot a Flea Allergy
The most commonly affected areas for itching or biting is the lower back, or right above the tail.
If you suspect your dog may have fleas, brushing him over a white sheet may help to detect them. Be sure to check for any dark, black material that falls from your dog’s fur. Any constant itching is a sign you should take your dog to the vet immediately to avoid contracting any diseases such as Lyme disease and Ehrlichia.
3. Dog Food Allergies
A dog food allergy can develop as early as five months. Dogs are not likely to be born with food allergies.
What is a Dog Food Allergy?
Dog food allergies account for about 10% of all allergies seen in dogs. It is the third most common allergy, after flea bite allergies and atopy (inhalant allergies). Dog food allergies account for around 20% of the causes of itching in dogs.
Dogs are not likely to be born with an allergy to food. They develop allergies to food they have eaten for a long period of time.
A dog food allergy can develop as early as five months and as late as 12 years of age. This type of allergy most commonly occurs in dogs between 2 and 6 years of age. Despite our lack of understanding of the actual allergy process, It is very important to distinguish the difference between food intolerance and food allergies so your dog can be properly treated.
What can you give a dog for allergies
If you suspect your dog has an allergy, you need to take him to the veterinarian to have an elimination, or food test performed to determine your dog’s specific allergy. When your dog is on a special diet because of dog food allergies, it is very important that he doesn’t get any other food such as treats, raw hides, human food, etc. because his allergy could be triggered.
Your vet may also suggest a hypoallergenic diet. These are foods made with hydrolyzed proteins, meaning the protein is already broken down into pieces that are small enough and won’t trigger an immune response.
So, if you have determined your dog has a food allergy, it is time to get him started on a special type of dog food.
Here is a list of the top brands of hypoallergenic dog food:
Flint River Ranch
Lamb, rice, and millet dog formula and trout and sweet potato dog formula are great hypoallergenic dog foods because they don’t contain wheat, corn or preservatives. These are all common causes of allergies in dogs. Flint River Ranch dog food is only available to order online.
This dog food is manufactured by Breeder’s Choice Pet Foods. Avoderm’s main focus ingredient is avacado, which is full of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and essential oils to help keep your dog free of allergies. Avoderm is good for skin and stomach allergies. Avoderm is available at many pet stores, as well as online.
This is another hypoallergenic dog food manufactured by Champion Pet Foods. It’s highly praised by dog owners for helping keep dog allergies to a minimum. Orijen is available at specialty dog food stores as well as online.
Canidae dog food is made of all natural ingredients. It is highly recommended for healthy skin and fur. However, some dog owners did report their dogs developing a sensitive stomach. It is based on lamb and rice and chicken and rice varieties. Canidae is available in pet stores and online.
This is manufactured by a Canadian company called Champion Pet Foods. They specialize in hypoallergenic dog food of all sorts, and for all breeds of dog. It is all organic and free of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and chemicals. It is also free of the allergen ingredients wheat and gluten. Acana is available at specialty dog food stores and online.
Manufactured by Breeder’s Choice Pet Foods. It is 100% allergen free and contains probiotics, vitamins, and minerals to help keep dog food allergies away. Pinnacle is available in pet stores, grocery stores and online.
Nature’s Variety has three different varieties of dog food. It is best for dogs with allergies to wheat or grains. They contains omega fatty acids for healthy skin and healthy fur. It is available in both dry and canned food. Nature’s Variety is available in specialty pet food stores as well as online.
We also have a list of 10 recipes for homemade.
Common side effects in food allergies are itching around the face, feet, ears, and mouth. Symptoms can also include recurring ear infections, hair loss, hot spots, and increased bowel movements. A study showed that dogs with food allergies may have 3 or more bowel movements per day.
Other side effects may include yeast infections, digestive disorders or respiratory infections. Dog food allergies are true allergies that show characteristic symptoms as described.
Dog food intolerance would be similar to people who get upset stomachs from eating spicy or fried foods. The most common side effect for food intolerance is diarrhea or vomiting, or no interest in the food whatsoever.
Treating Dog Food Allergies
Studies have shown that some ingredients are more likely to cause food allergies than others. The most common dog food allergies include beef, dairy products, chicken, lamb, fish, chicken, eggs, corn, wheat and soy. The most common allergens are usually the most common ingredients in your dog’s food.
It is important to visit your veterinarian to perform a hypoallergenic test diet to determine which foods your dog may be allergic to.
4. Bacterial Allergies
Staph or bacterial allergies are very common allergies found in dogs. Most dogs actually carry the staph bacteria, but only a small percentage of dogs are affected.
What Is a Bacterial Allergy?
Staphylococcus, or Staph infections, are very common types of bacterial allergies in dogs. Bacterial allergies are also called Pyoderma. Extreme reactions are rare but do affect a small percentage of the dog population.
Staph bacteria consists of several different species. It is normal for these species to live in dogs’ skin. Often times, the bacteria do not pose any threat to your dog as long as his immune system is strong.
Some bacterial allergies are severe, some are not. If your dog has a healthy immune system and normal skin conditions, excluding skin irritations or sores, the staph allergy will only cause minor problems. However, if the immune system is weak or the staph infection enters a sore or wound on the dog’s skin, and can be very serious.
Symptoms of Bacterial Allergies
The area infected is very noticeable. Symptoms include:
- Red blotches
- Hair loss
- Sores, welts or bumps on the skin
- Thickening of the skin
- Nasal or eye discharge
- Dry, flaky skin
- Unpleasant odor
A skin rash resembling ringworm also signifies infection. The infected area is usually round and is 1/2 to 2 inches in size.
Will My Dog Get a Bacterial Allergy?
This allergy is most common in pug nosed breeds of dogs, such as Shih-Tzu’s Bulldogs or Pugs, dogs with numerous skin rolls, such as Sharpei’s as well as overweight dogs.
5. Inhalant Allergies
The number one allergy found in dogs. Also known as Atopy, the symptoms are very similar to a human allergy.
What are Inhalant Allergies?
This is the most common allergy for dogs. Inhalant allergies in dogs, also known as atopy, is very similar to a human allergy. However, unlike human allergies that commonly cause respiratory reactions, dogs display their reaction through severe itching.
Inhalant Allergy Causes
The following elements have been known to cause a reaction in dogs:
- Fungal spores
- Pollen from trees (oak, ash or cedar) or flowers
- Hair from other animals
- Dust mites
Common Side Effects
The most common side effects are excessive licking, itching or biting in the armpits, flanks, groin, and feet. Other side effects include:
- Runny nose
- Excess thirst
- Watery eyes
Excessive biting or scratching can cause hair loss, sores, and inflammation. Saliva from constant licking can create sores and can discolor your dog’s fur.
Did You Know?
Female dogs have been reported to be more susceptible to inhalant allergies than males.
Catherine Bono is a blogger, who is passionate about dogs and cats. She created Crittersitca.com to shares her experience as she studies to become a qualified vet.